Thursday, January 27, 2011

Zoning Out Young Students

Antonia Layard recently posted about new planning restrictions in the UK limiting the number of unrelated people occupying a house.  These restrictions are not uncommon in the US, particularly in college towns.  For example, Northwestern University students are in an uproar because the town of Evanston has decided to start enforcing an old ordinance, quaintly called the "brothel rule,"  forbidding more than three unrelated people living together.

Athens has an even stricter requirement that no more than two unrelated people can live together.  However, in my experience this rule is rarely enforced.  I have no issue with most of the student households in our neighborhood, but occasionally we get a group of three (usually very young) folks living in the house next door and engaging in loud partying and/or having incessantly barking dogs.  I've had much more luck working directly with the tenants and the landlord, though, than I have getting Code Enforcement to come out and investigate.

Another current area of conflict in Athens is the placement of a fraternity in a historic neighborhood of Athens that is already home to several fraternities and sororities, but also to many families and working adults.  This is one of the many, tricky balancing questions in land use law.  How do we accomodate young folks who are still forming as individuals and learning what it means to be part of a community, without burdening the neighbors who need their beauty sleep and grow tired of noise and garbage?

Jamie Baker Roskie

Affordable Housing, Comparative Land Use, Georgia, Local Government, NIMBY, Property Rights, Zoning | Permalink

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BTW, the city of Evanston has decided to back down from enforcing the brothel law:

Posted by: Joe | Jan 28, 2011 8:15:32 AM

Thanks for the tip, Joe!

Posted by: Jamie Baker Roskie | Jan 28, 2011 11:45:26 AM


I seem to recall during my year in Athens a story, perhaps apocryphal, about frat or a group of students trying to get around that ordinance by declaring that they were the "church of free love" or something and invoking RLUIPA.

Posted by: Matt Festa | Jan 28, 2011 4:54:11 PM

Matt -

That does sound familiar, but I couldn't readily find any info about it. I did find an article from the local paper, in which it sounds like some neighbors have had more luck than I in getting code enforcement out:

It does also note the county has trouble bringing prosecutions. It seems like many neighbors are trying, as I am, just to be more proactive in talking to the tenants.

Thanks for the blast from the past!


Posted by: Jamie Baker Roskie | Jan 31, 2011 6:30:31 AM